THE JUDGEMENT: [A] THE JUDGEMENT [BEMA] SEAT OF MESSIAH
Somewhere, someday, sometime—all of us will experience the power of God when He raises our bodies from the dead. As surely as we die, we are going to be raised again—and as surely as we are raised, we are going to stand before God. It is not always easy to distinguish between the various judgments described in the Bible, but one thing is sure—every person is going to be judged. There is a day marked on the calendar of heaven when God shall judge the secrets of men (Romans 2:16). The writer of Hebrews says, “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). There is nothing more certain than death, and neither is there anything more certain than judgment. No one is going to escape it or avoid it or run from it. All of us will face it. However, many people mistakenly believe that God’s judgment is the same for everyone. There are a number of judgments described in the Bible. The Scripture describes following three important judgments:
- There is a “Judgment Seat of Messiah.”
- There is going to be a judgment of “Nations”, and
- The Great White Throne Judgment.
2.0 The Judgment [Bema] Seat of Messiah
The Greek word βῆμα (bēma) refers to a platform/rostrum for a judge or king. Pilate and Herod sat on these seats. We watch Olympics and amazed at the feats achieved by the bronze, silver, and most notably gold medal winners. The medal ceremony models a practice begun by the ancient Greeks, who instituted the Olympics in the eighth century B.C. A judge sat at what they called the Bema Seat at a respective race’s finish line. It was that judge who determined the winner and gave him an award immediately after the completion of the race.
The ancient Olympic victors received no medals. Instead, they received crowns made from olive leaves taken from what the Greeks considered the sacred tree at Olympia. The participant who finished in first place received a crown, as he personified the Greek concept of arête (excellence). Coming second or third gained nothing for a contestant.
Similarly, at the judgment seat of Messiah, born again believers are rewarded based on how faithfully they served Messiah (1 Corinthians 9:4-27; 2 Timothy 2:5). The Bible speaks of believers receiving crowns for different things based on how faithfully they served Messiah. The various crowns are described in 2 Timothy 2:5, 2 Timothy 4:8, James 1:12, 1 Peter 5:4, and Revelation 2:10. James 1:12 is a good summary of how we should think about the judgment seat of Messiah: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”
Some of the things we might be judged on are how well we obeyed the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), how victorious we were over sin (Romans 6:1-4), and how well we controlled our tongues (James 3:1-9). This judgment will focus on how did we live after we came to Messiah? How committed were we to the cause of Messiah and doing his will? Did we live to please him or live to please ourselves?
Notice again that the quality of the work is being judged, not the salvation of the one doing the work. In 1 Corinthians 3:12–15 we read, “Now if any man builds on the foundation [Messiah] with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it [the foundation] remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
Even though our work may be burned up and we receive no reward for it, we ourselves will be saved. This is a reminder to us that it is not enough just to do work for the Lord, what is equally or probably more important is the foundation of the work. This encompasses things like why are we doing it? Whose glory are we concerned about, our’s or God’s? Are we building our kingdom or God’s kingdom? On that day not only will what we have done be judged but also the motivation behind it. Everything will be laid bare and there will be no hiding or escape. God will reveal the things that we cannot see, which includes the attitude of our heart in doing what we do for God.
Every person that sets out to do the work of the Lord does not always do it with the right motives or for the right reasons. While those types of people may be able to hide their motives now, when they stand before the judgment seat of Messiah there will be no hiding for everything will be uncovered. In 2 Corinthians 5:10 we read, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Messiah, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
This is a judgment of only saved people [who are born again]—not a judgment of our sins but an examination of our faithfulness during life on earth to determine our rewards in heaven and our eternal assignments. It is a reward seat and portrays a time of rewards or loss of rewards following examination, but it is not a time of punishment where believers are judged for their sins. It will occur between Rapture and the Next Coming of Messiah to earth, somewhere in the heavenlies in the presence of the Lord. This is evident from John 11:25-26; 14:2-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 and Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21 and 19:8. This is what the bema seat judgment is all about. So, the order of events will be (a) the rapture which includes our glorification or resurrection bodies, (b) exaltation into the heavens with the Lord, (c) examination before the Bema, and (d) compensation or rewards.
3.0 Our Response to the Judgement [Bema] Seat
We need to search our heart. It is very easy to slide into the position of doing things for the wrong reasons, which means we are building on wood, hay, or straw. These will not survive when God’s fire is put to them. This is especially true of people who stand in the ministry spotlight or positions of influence. When we are the people look up to or we are the leader then we must search our heart even more because we have greater responsibility and also greater temptations. More importantly, we will be judged at a higher level. Here is what James says.
Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. James 3:1
The higher up we go or the more people we reach or influence the more we must check our heart. Get into the habit of always laying our heart bare before the Lord so he can reveal now what may be in there. Even more so as we recognize that we as well as all saved believers will experience the judgment seat of Messiah. Let this prayer be the continual prayer of our heart.
Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24
It is far better to allow God to search our heart now and reveal what is in it so we can fix it now as opposed to waiting to that day and he reveal it, because we won’t be able to fix it then. Let us focus on doing his will, for his glory, and building his kingdom. If this is our focus it will always keep our heart in the right place and we will receive reward when we stand before the judgment seat of Messiah.
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Surely only God can shut the fountain of tears! The Lord will do as He says in the scriptures and we should trust Him. He never fails!
Yes Ernest Twun…only God can do. In Psalm 138:2 we read, “I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”
I love the fact that we’ll have direct access to God in heaven and won’t have to go to a temple to try and get to Him.
The 1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “ Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
To know the meaning of above verse, one must know the answer of “Who Am I”? Please read it to know:
Also read in John 4:19–26, “The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
I pray and do hope that the Holy Spirit will reveal us the truth. God Bless You!
A world without pain and suffering seems impossible in these turbulant times. But I suppose finding truth in times of strife is a challenge man has always had to grapple with. We can only strive to make ourselves worthy when the day does come.
Thank you, Elizabeth B. Proverbs 16:17 says, “When people draw favor from the Lord, even their enemies are at peace with them.” There is nothing that can truly hurt those who seek peace by following the Lord. He is watching out for everyone.
Moreover, in John 16:33, Yeshua [Jesus] says, “I’ve said these things to you so that you will have peace in me. In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world.” In this life, there will be hardships, but they only last so long. Be at peace knowing that it’ll be over soon. God Bless You!
Your kingdom comes. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…I really like to listen to these beautiful prayers. They cure both body and mind powerfully.
Jesus just wants the best for us. So, he gave us the Lord’s Prayer.
Yeshua’s [Jesus’] life was prayerful. Why we need to pray more than Yeshua? One must watch this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeD5YENrINI. Also find the Lord’s Prayer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=df-ubCUQMVo
Hi Samir, Are heaven and the New Jerusalem the same thing? Could you please explain me that? Thank you!
I will come back to you Shiha on this…..meanwhile you can refer this to understand the differences between “the Kingdom of God” an “the Kingdom of Heaven”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4NdV2ImfnQ
New Jerusalem will be our primary eternal dwelling place, filled with unimagined blessing. Please, continue this good work, Samir.
Yes Amanda, you’re absolutely right. I have written another blog on it [Creation began in a garden but its going to end in a city]. Please find it at: https://allrevelation.org/creation-began-in-a-garden-but-its-going-to-end-in-a-city/
“The Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). To reach this fantastic kingdom we must develop an unshakable faith in his word.
It is comforting to know the plans that God has in store for all his followers, with all that i going on in the world, this helps us to keep on the right path so that we too can be apart of his plans
I have spent years trying to help my family understand the importance and blessing of New Jerusalem. They seem to be fixated on Heaven and they believe that is where the end is for Christ’s followers. I want to take what you said here and try to explain it to them. You did a beautiful job. I think maybe they will be able to understand me through your teachings of it.